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The end of Avengers: Infinity War was a massive shock to the audience. While the ending we saw, with half the universe being erased from existence, was certainly one of the potential endings, it was still a huge deal that the movie actually followed through with the cliffhanger ending that was going to leave fans wondering just what was going to happen for an entire year. While many were shocked, Benedict Cumberbatch recently admitted he was thrilled by the development, because he loved seeing the film take such a risk. According to Cumberbatch...
Benedict Cumberbatch doesn't simply tell The Star that he was excited by the ending of Avengers: Infinity War but also by the story that Avengers 4 is looking to tell because of that ending. He says there's an ingenuity at play here that he's obviously impressed with. Since we have no idea how it all goes together quite yet, we'll have to trust the word of the people who do.
It's certainly true that such a dark and dire cliffhanger is a bold move for a film franchise that is ultimately about bright and colorful comic book superheroes saving the day. A lot of people died and things look grim for the good guys. No previous Marvel movie had ended like that before, making Infinity War all the more unique. The feeling walking out of that theater was truly different as entire audiences weren't sure how to process what they saw, something Cumberbatch apparently experienced first hand.
Cliffhanger endings are common in TV series between seasons, and Benedict Cumberbatch makes reference to the fact that he was part of one at the end of Season 2 of Sherlock. It is a similar situation because in both cases, we knew the story would be coming back, and we knew that ultimately, the hero would survive, but we had a pretty extended wait before we actually saw how it all worked out. When a U.S. TV show goes on hiatus it's usually just for the summer, but in the case of both Avengers and Sherlock we have to wait a bit longer.
In the end, the cliffhanger here isn't what will happen. The fact is that we all have an expectation that much of the tragedy of Infinity War will be undone. The question instead is how will that happen and what will the cost be? We'll find out when the still untitled Avengers 4 arrives next May.